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Jul 92 Editorial
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:Editorial

Is the Apple Falling?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity when a falling apple hit him on the head. Recently, I’ve been hit by the gravity of Apple falling. Obviously, I will never be knighted, because unlike Sir Isaac, when hit on the head, I wonder what Apple is thinking.

Apple says that in the next 12 months it is going to bring us more new products than ever before in its history: More 68040 machines, Newton (Apple’s venture into the consumer electronics market), PowerPC (the RISC machine), and the whole venture between IBM and Apple, including Taligent.

The question isn’t whether Apple is doing the right things technologically, they have always done what is necessary to create a market. The question is whether they’re moving with the proper order and timing?

Neil, what are you talking about?

I’m talking about the need for development tools. In the course of announcing all of these revolutionary technologies, Apple has apparently forgotten its developers. Michael Tchao was recently quoted as saying: “At Apple, all hardware projects are thinly veiled software projects.” Well, without developers, that thin veil will shred, and everyone will get to see pieces of naked hardware and firmware, i.e., the Apple will fall. So now, we have to look at what tools Apple intends developers to use for all the new toys.

What are the choices? Apple’s obviously committed to Macintosh (they’d have to be - they’re not that crazy), so Macintosh will evolve and grow. One of the obvious extensions to the Macintosh’s life is by segueing it into the PowerPC project. This progression makes sense. Apple is talking about emulating 68000 code, and initially only rewriting the most used areas in the native RISC code. So the Macintosh could be the initial tool for PowerPC.

Then there’s Newton. Word has it that Newton will be programmed through some type of scripting process. OK, the Macintosh can handle scripting, but how realistic is it for us to develop software for a blindingly fast RISC chip on a relatively slow 68040?

I’ve heard comments like “don’t worry about it, Mac developers won’t be developing for Newton”. Really? When developers realize the potential of a consumer product linking with a current or faster desktop machine, they will develop for Newton and Macintosh/PowerPC.

So here’s the problem - we’re going to be looking at Newton’s possibilities in data accessibility and user interface while continuing our Macintosh development. We’re going to develop links between Newton and Macintosh/PowerPC. We have to have a development tool that will handle all of them, and more. If Apple hasn’t thought this through, where should we turn NeXT?

Apple is thinking sometimes

At the World Wide Developers Conference, Apple said that they would not be providing a Pascal compiler for PowerPC/Mac. As you’ll see in the NewsBits section, Apple was smart enough to have a great company - Language Systems - do one instead.

On the other hand

OK, I’m obnoxious today. But what about the RISCy speed that Apple is producing machines at? For years, Apple has produced machines at a “regular” pace. Occasionally, something is pushed (ok, shoved) through the development cycle. Can you say IIci or Quadra 950? So, the question is “who cares?” My response is, how many of you have seen problems with IIcis and 950s right after they came out? Apple has to move quickly, but with their prices still higher than Compaq’s new lows, things have to work right. If you don’t believe me, see David’s column.

What does this mean?

It means they haven’t heard from you, and they need to. They do hear from us. To represent your views, we need you to write to us. We’ll even publish some of your letters. A lot of Apple employees read MacTutor - communicate with them.

RENEWING YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

With the restart of publication and the change of ownership and management at the magazine, many of you haven’t renewed. We have a truly surprising number of completely new subscribers, but we’d like to get all of you back in the fold. We’ve sent magazines to people that have already expired. Now that you know that MacTutor is here to stay and have seen the new issues, this is the last of these complimentary months. In other words, the free ride’s over, so renew NOW! If you don’t, the subscription police are going to come and get you. Penalties are severe. You’ll be locked in a cell with David to discuss politics and fax software. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, turn to the order card between pages 32 and 33 and fill it out. Then send it in. Or else

How Not to Do Technical Support

As you all know, there was a problem with the layout in the April/May issue of MacTutor. As you may or may not know, this problem was caused by a bug that appeared in Quark XPress 3.1. We have reported this and other problems to Quark and are still waiting for a response. We just thought that you would like to know that magazines are ignored by Quark just as much as end users. So to Quark goes our Tech Support-NOT! award.

Oops! We (ok, I) goofed.

Every month, MacTutor has brought you the words of Jörg Langowski. Through an oversight on my part (there is a pit in my stomach inserted here), we are missing the wisdom of Jörg this month. Jörg’s column will be returning next month and will be here regularly. In the words of Monty Python, those responsible have been sacked.

New GEnie Address

Those of you on GEnie can now send e-mail to MacTutor at “MACTUTOR”. You can only send messages, no attached files yet. All MacTutor e-mail is checked daily thanks to our QuickMail server. Now, if we could only get the server to reply it would only take a few development dollars David, oh David

Neil Ticktin

Editor-in-Chief

the Publisher's column

Inconvenience and other things that don't work

By David R. Williams, Publisher

I was a reluctant convert to the Mac way of things. Neil made me do it. Neil claimed the Mac was better because it was so much more convenient to use, that it “just worked”. It’s true, inconvenient things often don’t work. But as I have learned in other areas, I shouldn’t listen too closely to Neil. It can be very inconvenient.

Things don’t always work. Sometimes, things blow goats. I have proof. What proof? I have an internal DoveFax Plus, that’s what. Every time I go about loading its lethaly flawed software onto my unsuspecting system, the whole show goes into inconvenient paroxisms of not working. Then, I have to bring the Quadra up without the extensions, and inconveniently work in the very nice shade of blue that a Radius Color Pivot shows without them while I very inconveniently remove everything from Dove, plus my newly corrupted system which I then have to reinstall. We’ve sent AppleLink’s to Dove, three of them no reply. I hear they’re busy reorganizing under chapter 11. Maybe they’ll find our requests! I suppose that they’ll reply at their convenience, which doesn’t suit mine.

Now, you’re probably thinking I’m having a “bad hair” day or that the struggles of publishing have finally gotten to me. No. I’ve always hated things that don’t work. Take for example our political system, as exemplified by the current presidential race. Here, we’re given to choose between three things that don’t work. We can have Mr. Clinton, who pretended he was loaded at parties in college even though he didn’t inhale (was he faking it then or lying now?), along with his wife and her conveniently handy-to-the-state-capital law firm, and his apparantly homicidal, but conveniently uninvestigated mother, and his conveniently uninteresting string of former ladies of convenience.

Or we can have Mr. Bush. Even my Quadra can’t decipher the coding in his lips which we now know read “I’ll increase taxes after the election, when its more convenient”. For who? Then, he found it convenient to leave Saddam alone after inconveniencing several hundred thousand of our troops. Finally, he finds it more convenient to keep Dan Quayle, who can’t even spell potato and thinks Murphy Brown is a real person, rather than admit to everyone that he made a huge mistake to begin with. Instead he’s conveniently busy being the Environment President, and the Education President, and the No New Taxes President Unless he gets moving and implements some new policies, he’ll be the EX President.

Last, but not least, we can have Mr. Perot, who so inconvenienced GM that it paid him $700,000,000 just to go away. The buying of the presidency. That’ll be $100,000,000 sir, and would you like it for here or to go? At least we don’t have to wait for after the election to realize we have no idea what he really stands for. How convenient.

And now, the analysts say the most likely outcome of a vote for Perot is that the electoral college won’t have a majority and the decision will fall to the democratically-controlled House, who will conveniently vote along party lines (the representatives having no conscience that might require them to go with the most popular choice) and conveniently give us Clinton, who we clearly like the least. Conveniently, he’ll likely have no ethical qualms about accepting.

In the end, I’m stuck voting for Perot, if for no other reason than that it will surely inconvenience a lot of entrenched politicians and I’m buying a new fax/modem, because it’s more convenient than waiting for Dove.

On the other hand, some inconvenient things really do work well. Our thanks go to Carolyn Rose, Editor of Develop magazine, for being willing to inconvenience herself to provide some sound advice and a very gracious offer of mutual assistance, both of which we are grateful to accept. I continue to urge readers to inconvenience themselves enough to communicate with us. Reader input works. Indeed, if our wishes were heard in Washington with anything like the attention and emphasis Neil puts on reader input, we would likely have some acceptable candidates with well-considered and well-known positions to choose from. Don’t let what happened to our government happen to MacTutor. Vote in the elections, write to us now and RENEW, RENEW, RENEW!!

 

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